This is True
Randy Cassingham

Randy Cassingham’s Blog

Historical Details and Author’s Notes from This is True®
— Weird News Online Since the Internet’s Dark Ages.

bullet  Lolita Midsleeper Combi

I thought many readers would like to see the photos that go with a story from the 10 February 2008 issue, and maybe you will have examples of other "inappropriate" products, especially for children. First, the story:

Who?

The staff of the U.K. branch of the Woolworths department stores didn't see anything wrong with the bedroom set designed for 6-year-old girls: it was dubbed the "Lolita Midsleeper Combi" and sold for 395 pounds (US$769) on the store's web site. The store refused to withdraw or rename the product because it wanted to "follow current trends," but a U.K.-based child-raising online forum continued to raise a fuss until the store bothered to investigate why "Lolita" might be an inappropriate marketing tactic. The 1955 book Lolita, which was adapted to film in 1962 and 1997, is about the narrator's sexual relationship with a 12-year-old girl. "We had to look it up" online to understand why shoppers were upset, a Woolworth's spokesman said, claiming no one knew who "Lolita" was. "We certainly know who she is now." The bed has been taken off the market, the spokesman confirmed. "We will be talking to the supplier with regard to how the branding came about." (London Times) ...Surely it was suggested by the children's department manager, Mr. Humbert.

The photos include a screen shot from the web offering (complete with typo):

'Lolita' bed web ad

While I was researching this, I found one blogger who particularly chuckled over the bit about the "perfect space-saving solution". Gee: why would a pedophile pay $769 for a bed when the real space-saving innovation would be to have the kid sleep in your bed with you? But that's not something I'd say....

The second shot is a close-up of the item:

Lolita Midsleeper Combi

What other inappropriate, absurd, perhaps even sexual item have you seen advertised for children? Tell me about it in the comments area. (I do have one other example from True: "pimp" and "ho" Halloween costumes -- for kids.)

- - -

This page is an example of what I mean by “Thought-Provoking Entertainment”. If you support sites that tell the truth even if it hurts, consider scrolling up to the top of the page for a free subscription.

To really support True, sign up for a paid subscription to the much-expanded “Premium” edition:

One Year Upgrade

(More upgrade options here.)

Q: Why would I want to pay more than the regular rate?

A: To support the publication to help it thrive and stay online, and this kind of support means less future need for price increases (and smaller increases when they do happen), which enables more people to upgrade. This option was requested by existing Premium subscribers.


60 Comments on This Entry

All comments in this blog are reviewed prior to being published. Spammers: don't waste your time. The posting criteria are simple: if a comment is worth visitors' time to read, it's approved. If not, it's not.


Posted by Gail, California on February 11, 2008:

One junk email I received really threw me: Teddy bears "demonstrating" sex toys and "tools".

Posted by brigid, atlanta on February 11, 2008:

Did you have to take the screen shot with typo off the page? Because I can't see it...

---

It's still there. "Orders" is spelled "oders". -rc

Posted by Tommy, Texas on February 11, 2008:

The Mattel vibrating Harry Potter broomstick was a great kids toy too, don't you think?

http://www.charchaa.com/files/locker9/Potter-Broomstick.jpg

Posted by Gerard, Enniskillen, N Ireland on February 11, 2008:

I recall one of those Shows with Wacky ads from around the world having a wearable tracker device so Parents could check on a kid's whereabouts...the name of the product? "Little Bugger"!

---

The term isn't used a lot in the U.S., so in case someone doesn't "get" the meaning: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bugger -rc

Posted by Jess, Canberra on February 11, 2008:

I vaguely recall something called "My First Pole Dancing Set", or something to that effect. It was said to include some play money for tucking into the garter (also included).

---

Tesco, another British chain, had the set for sale and dropped it in 2006 after an outcry. -rc

Posted by Sue in Bremerton WA on February 11, 2008:

A few years ago there was a VERY popular song about Barbie -- my 5 year old grand daughter knew every word, with gestures.. but she didn't know what some of the innuendo was, and so I had to talk to her mother about what an almost nasty song it is.

Remember paper dolls? I was looking online one day for some to perhaps give or buy for my granddaughters, and there were three sites offering paper dolls of a totally different type.. nude and scantily dressed 'models' that were actually porn. I don't have a mature filter on my computer, but I don't think it would have mattered anyway.

The little 'Lolita' bed is very cute, too bad it has that name. I'm just glad it isn't Barbie. Smile.

---

The 1997 "Barbie Girl" song was from a Danish pop group called Aqua, and they were sued over the song by Mattel. I had a great time writing Mattel up for a Stella Award over the suit, since it was so terribly frivolous -- parody is an absolute defense in trademark infringement cases, and there was no possible way for them to win. The case is featured in my Stella Awards book. -rc

Posted by E, Massachusetts on February 12, 2008:

Well, it wasn't as obvious an issue, but I was in a store recently and saw underwear for little girls. On the package? A VERY suggestively posed little girl, in just the underpants, and her arms crossed over her chest!

Posted by Jason in Vancouver BC on February 12, 2008:

Perhaps the people responsible for this bed were Japanese? In Japan there is a whole fashion trend called 'Lolita' which has nothing to do with child abuse. It's all about being girly, pretty, and dressing like a Victorian doll.

I know, because my wife is very into this fashion style. It's very cute and conservative, but tends to result in a lot of confusion here in North America because of the name.

---

As the ad shows, the company behind the bed is Scandinavian House Ltd, which is decidedly not Japanese. They're based in Leeds, England, and source most of their furniture of this type from Thuka, a Danish brand with strong British presence. -rc

Posted by Jerry, Bridgeport, CT on February 12, 2008:

Please don't consider this an elitist comment or assume that I am too old and "out of it" (I am 36) but the failure of a store and its supplier and all of the staff involved in design and marketing of the Lolita bed and not a single one of them knew of either the book by Nabakov or the movies or even the song by the group "The Police" ("Don't stand too close to me"). Isn't it amazing that a whole generation of people don't have a clue about an item of literature that has been around in various forms for the last 50 years? Not even to the point of understanding a reference to the name "Lolita" which plainly is connected to only one idea: sex with an underage female.

I love the internet but there has to be an inverse relationship between the rise of this form of communication and the decline of any kind of reading.

---

You either hit the nail right on the head (though you omitted reference to the "Lolita" films, including one that got huge publicity in 1997 and starred Jeremy Irons), or they did know all about it and thought it would be a great marketing ploy, and played dumb when reaction was so unfavorable. Frankly, I'm more likely to believe the latter.... -rc

Posted by Ari in Virginia on February 12, 2008:

How 'bout the "Jar Jar Binks Monster Mouth Candy Tongue"? This is a cherry lollipop shaped like the Star Wars character's tongue, with a plastic holder shaped like Jar Jar's head on a tube that shields the sticky candy when you're not actively, um, sucking the tongue.

photo: http://www.warpbreach.com/8/jarjarsuck.jpg

Posted by Amanda, Montclair NJ on February 12, 2008:

Well, I'm somewhat relieved upon seeing it - I was thinking it would be intended to be sexy-looking. After all it's just a normal IKEA-sort-of-style kids' bed... with a terrible, unfortunate name.

Posted by Chuck, MD on February 12, 2008:

Just had to see what the fuss was about "Barbie Girl", so looked up a link to the video.

And the song wouldn't be complete without the lyrics:

http://www.purelyrics.com/index.php?lyrics=fhjpacrk

Posted by Lynwood in Charleston SC on February 12, 2008:

Back in 1997 Mattel and Nabisco put out a black Barbie doll covered with Oreo references called "Oreo Fun Barbie". Because Oreo is a racial slur in the USA meaning "black on the outside and white on the inside" (implying that the black person so labeled is a traitor to their race) Mattel recalled the doll.

You have to wonder about executives that could approve such a thing. Obviously they are WAY out of touch with the popular culture that they are targeting with these products!

Scroll down about half way to see the doll:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbie_doll

Click here to see this item for sale on EBay! As of this writing there is one available for about $40.

Posted by Kathryn, Richmond VA on February 12, 2008:

To be fair, the two questionable items I saw weren't specifically intended for children. Also, they weren't easily found by the American public--they were offered for sale via an online auction. But the combination of the branding and the fact that they were actually mass-produced (though for an overseas market) gave me pause...

1) "Hello Kitty" 9mm Pistol. A real, functioning gun. Cased in pink plastic and complete with its friendly Kitty on the grips.

2) "Hello Kitty" Dildo. Yep, you read that right. With the friendly Kitty in a (ahem) prominent position at the top.

Posted by Mark - Alberta on February 12, 2008:

I remember reading an article about a children's bed from Ikea that was pulled because it was named after a town in Sweden, but in German the name was a sexual slang word.

---

That was the "Gutvik" bed. "Goot fick" is German for what you likely think it is. -rc

Posted by Phil, Gilford NH on February 12, 2008:

In recent years we've received a bunch of mail-order catalogs from assorted vendors (most of them fairly major names) touting outfits for kids as young as 9 and 10 that you'd expect to see worn by either a prostitute or maybe a slutty 18-year-old in a rebellious shock-the-parents phase. There's something wrong when we have headline kiddie-porn scandals, we have news stories about pedophiles trolling online trying to solicit sex from underage kids, and then you open the mailbox and here's Lillian Vernon trying to sell your 13-year-old a stripper costume for Halloween.

Posted by Andy, Greenville, PA on February 12, 2008:

How about "Chilly Bang Bang" fruit drink? It consisted of a fruit drink filled water pistol that the tykes are supposed to drink by putting the muzzle in the mouth and pulling the trigger!!

It is noteworthy that the product was on the shelves for only a VERY short time -- it was recalled by the Illinois Department of Public Health.

---

Indeed an incredibly stupid thing to teach children. The shocking part was in the recall notice, the stated reason wasn't any sort of safety issue regarding the idea of a kid sticking a gun in his mouth, but rather that "The opening tab at the end of the gun barrel separates and is a small part which could be ingested by small children and cause choking." Incredible. -rc

Posted by Derek, Irvine, CA on February 13, 2008:

When you solicited comments for inappropriate items marketed for kids, I immediately remembered Dan Aykroyd's hilarious routines as Irwin Mainway on the original Saturday Night Live where he shilled toys for kids like bags of broken glass ("Bag O' Glass") and "Johnny Switchblade".

---

Those were gags on late night TV. Fun to remember, but in a totally different class.... -rc

Posted by Jenni - Colorado on February 13, 2008:

At Christmas, underwear for adolescent girls was sold at Walmart that said "who needs credit cards... when you have santa". Walmart pulled them.

Posted by Denise, NC on February 14, 2008:

I know it's a British advert, and maybe I'm terribly American-centric, but I would have thought that the Amy Fischer "Long Island Lolita" story would have been infamous enough to make certain any Oprah-watching country would know about it.

As for inappropriate toys, how about the decidedly phallic-looking Dora Aquapet?

Posted by CeeJay, OH on February 14, 2008:

My grandmother was named Lolita and in her memory my 4 year-old granddaughter is also named Lolita.

When Christmas shopping this year, I did a search for products named Lolita, found and bought this bed for her.

I remember seeing the book listed on the product search but didn't pay any attention to it as she can't read yet. I had no idea what the book was about until this story hit the news.

Lolita loves her bed and is very pleased about the fact that it is "her" bed with her name. Sleeping in this bed does not harm her in any way and does not make her any more of a target for pedophiles than she was before she got the bed.

The people the bed is targeted for (4-6 year olds) have never heard of the book or movies and have no clue what other meanings the name might have.

Maybe if those mother's had left things alone some of the stigma attached to the name would have been mitigated. Instead they have reinforced the notion that Lolita in some way relates to sexuality and have brought that idea back in to the forefront of the public consience.

I hope that by the time my granddaughter is old enough to understand all this that people will have forgotten about it again.

---

Good luck. The direction society is going doesn't seem to make that any too likely, which of course is why those mothers made a fuss. -rc

Posted by Karen, AR on February 14, 2008:

When I was a kid in the 70's, I owned a "Growing Up Skipper" doll by Mattel. When you turned her left arm one way, her torso became longer and her breasts popped out. Turn it the other way to make her shorter, flatter. (Wish I'd kept her, she's worth a bundle now!)

Then about 6 years ago, my daughter received a Mattel toy in her Happy Meal. It was a Barbie figure that came with a wand. When you rubbed Barbie's chest with the wand wet, it made 2 inappropriately placed stars appear on her shirt.

Posted by Jeff, CA on February 14, 2008:

I have this Princess Leia figure that came from some fast food promotion a couple years ago. There is a knob on the side you turn to see different Star Wars scenes. To see the scenes, you have to look up her dress...!

Posted by Ernest - Junee, NSW, Australia on February 15, 2008:

I'm aware of the story Lolita, but it's also a common girls name in many countries, and has been for a long time - that's why it was used in the book. What is interesting is that several years ago Lolita has entered into general usage in some countries as a term to refer to young girls in the 5 to 10 year age group. I don't know why, but have seen it becoming increasingly more used in reference to young girls in the media and movies and it's usually not used in any sexual manner - but more like you use the term teen or mid teen to refer to an age group.

Being against something because it's called a Lolita set would be like being against something called a Susie set because an infamous female had the same name - some people are just determined to see something wrong in anything. I do wonder how those shocked women had known about the story Lolita?

---

They apparently read. -rc

Posted by Brien, San Diego on February 15, 2008:

Remember the Abercrombie & Fitch stink a few years ago about the thong underwear for 8-10 year olds with "eye candy" and "wink-wink" on them? Here's an archived story and picture.

Posted by Greg, TX on February 15, 2008:

And the childish belief that a person's name defines them continues.

I suppose Woolworths' first mistake was listening to the complainers from an internet forum - often the source of so much trouble on a forum and so little benefit.

How about the "Tabitha Midsleeper Combi"? Oh wait, Tabitha was a witch, the daughter of Samantha on the television show "Bewitched".

Boy, finding names for things sure is getting harder - for the small-minded. Or maybe just for the people who have to satisfy the small-minded.

Posted by Adam in Atoka, OK on February 16, 2008:

Tabitha's name isn't associated with pedophilia or borderline pedophilia, and most people in North America at least still remember bits of the massive media fiasco that was Joey Butifuco(sp?) and the 'Long-Island Lolita' case, which is how the term 'Lolita' first entered the public consciousness and the national lexicon.

Maybe the store should be spared some of the public backlash for simply not knowing, maybe they should get well and truly burned for not bothering to do the research, but either way they may as well have named this the 'Precocious Slut' Midsleeper Combi.

Posted by Swiggy, Elkhart IN on February 16, 2008:

In a newsgroup a while back, one of our members posted a picture of a young girl, maybe 11 or 12 at the most. She was wearing a tank top. Across the chest (undeveloped) was the phrase, "Work in Progress" and at the bottom of the shirt was the phrase "Good to Go" with an arrow pointing to her privates.

At best, it could be called kiddie porn for the public, because the girl is dressed, but the suggestions on her shirt makes it obscene. Yea, I have a copy of it if you are interested in it for your site, and let the readers judge. As to who would buy such a shirt for such a young girl, the group speculated that it was A) an older boyfriend, B) A child molester that she is active with.

---

It could well have been C) an advertisement. The question is, if you considered it "obscene", why did you keep a copy? -rc

Posted by Brian, Indiana on February 16, 2008:

I think it is sad that so many people have so much time to sit around and try to see the dirty side to everything. (No matter how imaginative they have to get.)

Maybe they should just get their dirty minds out of the gutter.

It was simply a young girls bed. Nothing more, nothing less!

Posted by John in Lexington, SC USA on February 16, 2008:

You'd think that a film with a British actor (James Mason) that depicted such an inappropriate situation MIGHT have made more of an impression on the people in the UK than it seems to have. Oh how quickly they forget. Humbert Humbert was played by a Brit. Brits forget... Americans remember.

I recall that Mason played the role so well, I really didn't want to watch him in any new roles as it left a seriously sleazy impression, even though it was of course just acting. His own countrymen forget though.

Posted by George, Kansas on February 16, 2008:

Couldn't be any worse than the Bratz dolls and clothing. Bratz dolls come complete with hooker heels. Dress your pre-pubescent in a Bratz outfit and provide eye-candy for all pedophiles....

Posted by Carol, Ann Arbor, MI on February 16, 2008:

Personally, I thought Lolita was an inappropriate name, as well. I've never heard the name used anywhere but in the book/movies. Sorry, gentlemen, I don't think that makes me small minded. Marketing a bed for little girls named after a little girl used as a sex object is twisted. I'm sure it's not the only infamous name people avoid. How many men to you meet called Judas?

Posted by David, nyc on February 16, 2008:

People who don't get the connection to the name need to use any search engine for "lolita" and find out how many porn sites turn up. I don't get that response with any other name I've tried.

Posted by Jim, Dalton, GA on February 16, 2008:

Did you miss the website about 10 years ago offering "Monica Cigars"?

Posted by Andrew, MI on February 16, 2008:

Re: the "Chilly Bang Bang" gun... Pez Candy did the same thing a number of years ago; that one also got pulled, and for the same reason.

American advertising, in general, seems to be developing more of a proclivity for questionable (or down-right off color) ads and commercials; the current commercial for KY Intrigue springs to mind.

Posted by John, BC Canada on February 16, 2008:

I have a great nephew, 28, whose fiance is named Lolita, 24, and both of them are completely unaware of the significance of the name. I am still taken aback when called to say her name.

Posted by Janet, chesapeake on February 16, 2008:

I am only thankful my daughter is an adult now. The "prostitot" look missed her by a mile. Marketing to children has crossed a line that was tacitly known and kept for decades.

Posted by Linda, North Carolina on February 16, 2008:

Questionable advertising - How about Domino Pizza's BFD? Big "Fantastic" Deal according to the miniscule print on the ads.

Personally, I'm not offended by KY Intrigue. It is a product for adults and marketed as such. I was offended by BurgerKing's Chicken Fries ads with "Chicken Heads" and some girl bobbing for a chicken fry being dangled over her open mouth.

As for kiddie oriented marking that's inappropriate -- Guess you missed the Stripper in training "fitness" pole from Tesco, complete with a garter and play money with the catchy tag line "Unleash the sex kitten inside ... soon you'll be flaunting it to the world and earning a fortune in Peekaboo Dance Dollars."

How about the Kiddie Tattoo set with 'realistic' inking action. They have one for boys and when I was looking for a link to send you I found a pink airbrush version for girls.

---

Several other comments note the Tesco "stripper pole", including a fair number that I didn't approve since they didn't add anything to it, as you did. -rc

Posted by Denise, NC on February 16, 2008:

Could have been worse...

Could have been a teddy bear named after a certain Islamic prophet.

Posted by Swiggy, Elkhart IN on February 16, 2008:

One reason is that I keep copies of nearly every image posted, clean or obscene. This one walks a fine line. As for it being advertising, i doubt it as the photo quality is not in the same league as advertising photos. It looks more like a snapshot that's had some editing.

Posted by Pete, USA on February 16, 2008:

What I find disgusting are the very young girls displaying sexualized behavior in beauty pageants. Remember the videos of Jon Benet Ramsey on the news?

As for an innocent looking bed named "Lolita" I thing it's a stretch as something to get worked up about.

Posted by Joe, Ohio on February 16, 2008:

I personally believe this is much ado about nothing. I would not have made the connection to the name Lolita. Of course, I have absolutely no interest in reading these types of books or viewing movies of this kind. While I agree that some products are marketed inappropriately, I also find it hard to believe that this bedroom set was intentionally marketed in the assumed fashion.

What I find objectionable is the price of $769.00 USD for a very cheap looking piece of furniture!

Posted by Bob, Amsterdam, NY on February 16, 2008:

Is it really inappropriate advertising? Some people get upset, others don't understand what the fuss is about. The fact of the matter is this is a generational issue. Those of us old enough to react to the name Lolita don't realize there is a whole generation out there that doesn't share our experiences or "cultural artifacts". The store personnel's explanation that they had to look it up is a clue that a younger generation is running things. I'm sure we can find other similar generational items, albeit with a less sensitive topic.

Posted by Jorge, Guadalajara, Mexico on February 16, 2008:

Lolita or Lola is a nickname for Dolores, an Spanish female name. The meaning of the word 'dolores' is 'grief' or 'sorrow' (www.wordreference.com); and refers to Mary, the mother of Christ's grief after his crucifixion. Its a common name in Spain and Latin America.

The sad fact is that Lolita is the name of a child abuse novel character and after that novel that many Americans relate the name to hispanic women sex related pictures and movies.

Maybe a mistake from the British department store.

Posted by Maven in Texas on February 17, 2008:

In response to Bob in Amsterdam's comment, 'The fact of the matter is this is a generational issue. Those of us old enough to react to the name Lolita don't realize there is a whole generation out there that doesn't share our experiences or "cultural artifacts".'

The term "Lolita" is in common usage in the USA usually referring to an under the legal age of consent, overly sexually aggressive female. (AKA-Jailbait)

In addition, it has also been adopted by the Goth subculture to describe a fashion trend where one dresses in frilly Victorian-esque pinafores that are both innocent children's style as well as very sexualized. It is a popular fashion trend in Japan also, with magazines dedicated to the look. The major differences being it is marketed to teens and 20 somethings, not pre-pubescent girls.

Nabakov's novel hasn't been forgotten by a long shot. It has in fact been adopted by a new generation.

Posted by Patrick, UK on February 17, 2008:

Perhaps it's the case that modern usage of this term is slightly less known / common in Britain than it is in the USA?

I suspect that if it had not been for the internet, I also would not have understood the problem here...

---

As a reminder, it was a British parenting web site that raised the alarm in the first place. -rc

Posted by Alice Shade @ Odessa, Ukraine on February 17, 2008:

Score another blunder for "specialised" education.

Supposedly, even though the target audience of the product might be a little too young to have read Nabokov yet, advertisement specialists who done the PR research for it don`t quite have that excuse.

What puzzles me most of all, though, is not the fact that no one involved in Woolworth made the connection, but rather that they most definitely had not attempted to even search the name through any search engine to see what kind of associations it pulls.

Term "lolita" or "loli" is actually pretty common around the net as the definition of anything sexual, looking or being overly young. Although yes, origins of term lie in Nabokov`s work, internet usage of word is quite distorted compared to its source...

And, while I'm on topic, I'd like to express my dissatisfaction with equating classic literature and child abuse. Core fabula of the book laid not in sexual overtones, and should not be assumed to be victorian version of textual smut.

Actually, the main motif of the book revolved around a girl, who behaved abnormally maturely for such a tender age and, I have to say, quite aptly at that. Similarly, the issue raised in the book had nothing to do with child abuse - the book had extrapolated on the influence of then-modern world on people, and how the advents of society had pushed children to mature too soon and too fast to keep up with the world.

Had I more faith in humanity, I could've even thought that naming was an elaborate joke - reference to the classics and in the same time a joking promise that such a furniture will help the child to mature.

However, I`m afraid, such a joke would be quite too subtle. Not a lot of people would get it, and even less - have a gall to laugh freely.

Nay... As much as I'd loathe it, it's just an oversight by all-too-lazy PR & advertisement people - another amusing yet depressive brick laid into the wall of inept stupidity.

Posted by Dan - Texas on February 17, 2008:

I'm in the Goth subculture, and my girlfriend does occasionally dress in the Lolita style. Calling it a "very sexualized children's style" is inaccurate. Frilly and Victorian, yes. Very sexualized, no. Any girl I've met in the scene that dresses in Lolita-type garb could be accurately described as modest.

/tangent.

Posted by Austin,Texas on February 18, 2008:

I am currently working on a Lolita style line, more along the lines of it's current meaning in costuming society. It is indeed kin to children's Victorian wear, and in a society of today's standing, very modest. In my opinion the style has never been overly sexual in nature.

The term Lolita has been defined and changed over time so much that it's no wonder the PR reps for this company had no clue of its meaning. I commend them for finally removing the product, but laugh at their doubts of the origin of the word.
However, if they drop in a twin instead of a small bed and then put a Woolworth's in the middle of the Harajuku district in Japan, they would be unable to keep these in stock.

Posted by Jimmy, Oklahoma on February 18, 2008:

The Pimp and Ho costumes from Brands on Sale are definitely appalling. But all you have to do is look at the Brands on Sale website and check the Preteen Girls costume section to see equally inappropriate costumes. Almost every costume in that category is just a smaller sized version of costumes that when marketed for grown women are placed in the "Sexy" category. I mean really, what preteen girl needs a French Maid miniskirt costume? Maybe I'm just old fashioned at the ripe old age of 36, but I wouldn't let my daughters (7 & 9) wear those costumes.

---

Well, it's no surprise to me that the company that sold the Pimp and Ho costumes has other inappropriate costumes. One could give them the benefit of the doubt and say they're simply allowing all sorts of roleplay, allowing girls to dress up like a lot of careers. But the cop and firefighter outfits feature short shorts, leading an objective observer to wonder whether the object is roleplay, or blatant sexuality.... -rc

Posted by John, California on February 19, 2008:

Lolita fashion is big in Japan because many men there do enjoy sexual thoughts of young girls. It is called "Loli-con" for Lolita-complex. There is a huge sex trade industry with girls dressing in baby-doll outfits and school-girl uniforms.

Posted by Ken, Pennsylvania on February 19, 2008:

Let's not forget that Lolita is an actual girls' name in some countries, (The manufacturer is called Scandinavian House, though who knows where they're really located) and perhaps this over-reaction is a perfect example of PC gone off the deep end. I find it nearly impossible to believe that anybody could have purposely done this and thought that it would ENHANCE sales. They named it after a girl. period. If it had been Hannah or Marieke nobody would have thought anything of it.

There's a good reason you can't find many (any?) German boys named Adolph, but it's rather silly to have to avoid using the name Lolita because of a book. Get over it.

Now if this was something that was overtly sexual and aimed at little girls, then I can see the problem. A bed isn't in itself overtly sexual, except maybe in a Puritanical society. Oh, now I get it... never mind.

---

It's not just that "Lolita" is a character in a book, or even movies. Do a little research: Google "Lolita" and see what you find. Then Google "Hannah" or "Marieke" and note the differences. It's not just a book, it's a long-established, wide-spread, societal sexual phenomenon. To "not know" it is to be ignorant -- which is precisely what Woolworths was accused of. -rc

Posted by Laura, Boston on February 20, 2008:

People are way too sensitive. I've seen Lolita (both versions), I've read the book. I instantly recognized the name, but I didn't think "They're selling that bed so people will have sex with little girls in it!"

I can't imagine anyone paying $769 for a bed purely because it has the name "Lolita" on it (including a pedophile), any more than I can fathom refusing to purchase an otherwise functional piece of furniture because of the name attached to it.

Honestly, if someone has nothing better to worry about than how a foreign company names its products, that person should praise any relevant deity for the fact that he or she has no actual problems.

Posted by Peg, Bettendorf, IA on February 29, 2008:

Methinks Randy and some of the media doth protest too much.

It's a bed. It's a girl's name. Anyone who puts 2 and 2 together and thinks "pedophile" has too much time on his/her hands.

---

I can tell you don't have any daughters. -rc

Posted by Andara, California on March 1, 2008:

I've never read the book. I've never seen either of the two movies. But I've heard the name Lolita as a reference to sexually active preteens fairly consistently over the last 20 years.

I'm a big fan of Japanese animation and comics, and Loli-con (previously mentioned to be shorthand for Lolita complex) refers to a common fetish (often sexual) based around preteen or preteen-appearing girls.

From there it's grown to a full fashion trend with Loli style clothes being notably frilly, often with lots of bows, ruffles, and lace; usually in pale colors.

A popular offshoot (also mentioned by another poster) is G-Lol, which is the Goth Loli craze which takes the basic Loli style and recolors it with blacks and deep reds and other colors, and sometimes makes the clothes a little more daring, but still nothing that would be unreasonable.

Culturally speaking, naming anything aimed at young girls in Japan "Lolita" would just be an indication of style. In the US and UK (among other places), it's not a name that conjures up anything you want to associate with your daughters.

Posted by Jeannie, Ohio on March 8, 2008:

My daughter (age 11) is a huge fan of Japanese anime, manga and rock music. I am more traditionally Euro-American in my reading and musical tastes. So you can imagine the mental picture that went through my head when my daughter first asked for a Lolita outfit. Needless to say, I have been culturally educated - but she still doesn't have a Lolita.

Posted by Theresa in Rhode Island on May 3, 2008:

This brings to mind my mindset when I first saw children running around in Aeropostale brand clothing... a store long-associated with men's clothing and pornography.

No, my 11-year old daughter does not have any, though her cousins do.

Sigh

---

What, she prefers French Connection UK stuff? Their logo, of course, is "FCUK". -rc

Posted by James, Mexico on July 14, 2008:

Loli-con as a fashion started in Japan from people dressing up as manga and anime characters, something that has been around for a while. It's not just hentai that has girls dressed up in school uniforms, most action manga comics do too -- probably because the target audience is largely of teenage years. That being said, it was obviously named after Nabakov's book.

And yes, Lolita is a common name in many countries.

While I don't think the naming of the bed is anything to get too upset about, it was a particularly stupid move on the part of the vendors. When you name a product you research the name, and you don't choose one that could offend or even put off a section of your target audience -- in this case parents of young girls. It's the same reason you don't name an airline "Icarus", it's just not the connotation you want.

Posted by Jeff, USA on January 3, 2009:

Randy, the FCUK reply is one that would have been great for the newsletter, but a better comeback here would be to point out that the poster is confusing brands.

Aeropostale is a relatively benign clothing company, even if the styles are a bit tart-y for 11-year-olds. A&F (which owns Hollister, among others) was the purveyor of the infamous porn catalog. At least they didn't glorify murderers, like Beneton did in one of its campaigns ... Heck, you could probably do a "special edition" of inappropriate ads by clothing brands aimed at teens!

---

Probably, but teens and prepubescent girls are two very different things! -rc

Posted by Jim, California on January 9, 2009:

I can't find them now, but a couple of years ago somebody showed me officially licensed Disney products from Japan: Mickey Mouse and Winnie-the-Pooh "personal massagers." The one was topped with Mickey's gloved hand, and the other had Pooh's "hunny pot" on it.

I swear I am not making this up.

Post a Comment

Read this before posting a comment! Comments are of course the opinion of the poster. All comments must be approved by the site owner before they appear. Only interesting, pertinent comments that have to do with the entry will be approved. Read the existing comments before posting your own to ensure you're not saying something that's already been covered. You must include an e-mail address or your comment will be automatically discarded; e-mail addresses are not published.


Subscribe to Entry Comments without Commenting

Put your e-mail address in the box to subscribe to notifications of comments made on this specific entry. Confirmation required, unsubscribe individually anytime without affecting your regular newsletter subscription.

Blog Updates